The Life And Loves Of Jet Tea – a review

Jet Tea is a man plagued by the twenty-first century. Stuck in a series of jobs which don’t really do justice to the years of ability he has built up, and dumped by the first real love of his adult life, he bounces from pillar to post, and pub to pub, trying to find love and answers at the bottom of a pint glass.

The joy of The Life and Loves of Jet Tea is in how English it is, therefore how relatable. There is an element of Douglas Adams to the prose, the awkward nature of not really being completely comfortable with the way we feel about our surroundings. Set against a backdrop of West London it’s a literary A-Z of the places to head if you want to face the arseholes you spend so long avoiding and confront everything which disenfranchises you from the world you are unfortunately a part of.

Accompanying Jet Tea on his voyage of self-discovery are his two sole friends, Maurice and Hayden, who for the most part are the cooler sect of the tripod. While they are all able to make a mischief of themselves, there is the image that Jet Tea isn’t able to deal with these things in the way his friends do. His dyslexia and distance from the world make him a target on top of his outwardly expressed ‘geeky’ appearance, and there is the concern he will never come out on top. Faced with rejection at every turn he continues unabated for the things we all want in our mid-twenties.

The book is comforting, thought-provoking and hilarious throughout, displaying the kind of aforethought only someone who has been there could have achieved. It’s a must read, and can be picked up through Amazon.

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It’s all happening.

I am pleased to announce things seem to be storming forwards on the short stories front. I have found an amazing designer to put together something, and I am really impressed with how well he has read the vibe of the book and come up with something unassuming which should make people turn back to it and go ‘Ohh, that makes a whole lot more sense’.
I finished redrafting at about half three this morning and instantly sent the book to as many people as I could find in my inbox who might be interested. This morning even more people on Facebook and Twitter have expressed an interest so I’m hoping I will have something to show for all these restless nights.

I think when it’s all finalised I might take a little break before starting in on the next thing. I have so many plans and so many things to do but I can’t keep going like this. I’ll take Easter to relax, and think about how my lot killed your Lord and then I will start in on the next phase of operation Schiernecker.

My thanks to everyone who now has a copy of Where Did All The Money Go? in their inbox.
I look forward to your thoughts, tips, reviews, whatever.

Peace&love.

How to solve a problem like the Goth Detectives

Last night I was lucky enough to visit the Royal Albert Hall for one of the Teenage Cancer Trust gigs curated by bumbling, coarse hero of the north, Noel Gallagher. The night in question was one of comedy, notably pegged as a show by the Goth Detectives; the collective term for Russell Brand and Noel Fielding.
The name came as a result of the pair appearing on a team together on Big Fat Quiz Of The Year a few years ago and they have quite literally run with it.

I had never been to the Albert Hall before. It still holds an air of grandeur even when Brand referred to it as a mausoleum.

The show opened with a plasticine stop-motion animation by Fielding where the pair searched for the cure for cancer before being given a lift to the gig by “golden fleece haired” mod hero Roger Daltrey who then bounded out onto the stage to introduce the pair.

Brand and Fielding work well together in that they both crave chaos and attention. Their show seemed to have some kind of script or plan or intention behind it but that quickly gave way to Russell trying to impregnate everything and Noel saying silly things just to be quirky.
After a brilliant rambling opening gambit they introduced Sean Walsh to the stage.

I first saw Walsh perform at a tiny warm up gig on a boat approximately two years ago. He was a stand out performer then, and has only got better I am pleased to report. His observational comedy is not as stilted and predictable as the likes of McIntyre or Evans, the things he comments on are the awkward ways of the English nature and trying to maintain a modicum of masculinity in today’s society. His physical comedy is parallel to his spoken word, equal parts the mime and the joker.

Russell returned to the stage to carry out a bit of solo stand up which was a clear highlight. It’s good to see despite his recent Hollywood dalliances and bus surfing Olympic appearance his life is still a series of embarrassing events linked together by telling people about those embarrassing events.
I’ve been a fan since his drug addled days on MTV and it’s good to see the lack of opiates in his system has made him wilder and smarter.

This was followed by Noel performing his character Roy Circles from Luxury Comedy. Roy is a chocolate finger PE teacher who I believe was in the army, it was hard to work out.
I tried really hard to enjoy Luxury Comedy but it just wasn’t the Boosh. Maybe that was the point. Maybe I’m too much of a square to get it.
Following a brief eulogy of Neil Armstrong by the moon the first half ended.

The second half of the show began with a short film about the Teenage Cancer Trust and the excellent work they do. They are the only charity who solely work with young people with cancer.
Noel Gallagher then took to the stage accompanied by one of the girls aided by the support of TCT. That has just reminded me to donate actually.

Russell and Noel returned to attempt to solve a goth mystery, as they are after all supposed to be detectives. The suggestion box they placed at the front of the stage before the break was just full of witchy woman witterings and attempts to be funny.
When that failed they pulled a skinhead from the audience and decided to call his stepdad live on stage. Russell joked he was yet to learn his lesson about calling up someone’s relatives for a joke.

Tony Law was the notable highlight of the second half. The vikrate/piking has been on the peripheries for far too long and Fielding’s admiration of his act helped in getting him the slot. As a comedian he is incredible to watch. You never know exactly where his jokes are heading in the best possible way.
His ‘Two elephants in a bar’ skit had me in pieces and despite the scowls of people who obviously wanted something a little more obvious and vacuous he went across well.

This was followed by the return of the Goth Detectives as they gave a student a goth makeover, cutting his ginger bob and forcing him into black leggings. The act would have been slightly more successful if they weren’t faced with a brick wall as a model. The kid just looked miserable, and this was before they spray painted his hair and face.

It was a great evening and excellent for the Teenage Cancer Trust which doesn’t get enough respect or support. The work done to put on these events and raise awareness is incredible. Those involved deserve every kind of accolade.

Personally I would like to thank James for sorting me a ticket, to Jack for finding such a supreme steakhouse and to Sandy for getting the beers.

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Picture courtesy of @rustyrockets

Little privileged us.

It’s hard to think of yourself as being privileged. We are raised to want, to crave, to keep up with the Jones’s.
if you were to be placed in a line of privilege however, against everyone else in the world, I think you would be surprised.
There are so many people in the world who spend every day trying to make it through, just trying to survive that day. Making sure they can get enough food to get by. Trying to ensure they have somewhere to sleep.
The fact we don’t need to worry about those things means we are privileged.
It should be a right for every person to have shelter and fresh water but unfortunately that isn’t the world we live in yet.

When you think about it, the tenner you donated to Comic Relief because Harry Styles crying and holding a baby with malaria made you cry is the tip of the iceberg of what you could afford to give.
There are so many occasions where I look through my bank statement and can’t work out why I needed to withdraw yet more funds. If we all just took a moment to think about how wasteful we are, and how lucky we are then maybe it would push us all to give a little more to people who can’t order in a Domino’s when they ‘can’t be bothered to cook’ or buy a new shirt or dress for each weekend so they don’t look the same in their Facebook photos.

We are selfish. We could do so much more. Why don’t we?

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Good things come to those who….

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock.
Black and white footage of horses on the incoming surf.
A pint of the black stuff.
There’s a lot to be made of it.
As a nation, and especially as a generation we are far too impatient for our own good. I look around and see people buying things on credit because they couldn’t possibly wait until they actually had the money themselves. I see people paying over the odds for a product they won’t use before it drops into the sale. I see girls who can’t wait for their hair to grow so pay out ridiculous sums of money for real hair extensions. I wonder if we wouldn’t all be a bit better off if we didn’t jump in to our decisions as quickly as possible.

Of course there’s a time for action, I’m not saying every choice in your life needs to be sat upon but the majority of the money we spend is wasted, and a lot of that I believe is down to an inability to wait. Tired of wasting too much money in the weekend immediately proceeding my monthly payday I decided whenever I wanted something I would add it to a wish list instead of buying it straight off. A month later I could decide if it was something I still wanted or whether it had just been a passing fancy. The fact of the matter is by the time you reach your mid-twenties you are pretty set for the things you need, and everything else is simply something you want.
I want more books. I have shelves full of them but I want more.
I want a new car, but until I can afford one and until my current ride (Pancetta) is no longer fit for purpose that simply won’t happen.
I want a house, but until I have the money I am entirely stuck.

Another example is the kind of benign platitudes that fill Facebook of a Monday morning.
‘Want to stay in bed’
‘Why isn’t it the weekend’
‘Sometimes I wish I could gun down everyone in my office like the Boomtown Rats song’.
Without the week you are so dreading you cannot get to a weekend. Without getting up and facing that Monday morning you claim to be dreading there will be no Saturday or Sunday. Without going to work there will be no money for you to waste on that weekend.
The ugly truth is most people spend the week griping about how it isn’t the weekend yet and then fill their bodies with drink and drugs to a point they forget the majority of the weekend anyway.

When you strip all of the wants away, there is really only a very limited amount you actually need to keep going.
Stop just taking. Start waiting.

Abbey Road Studios.

I am not a religious man. Tonight I had the closest thing I can compare to what I imagine a religious experience to be. There were no choirs of angels. There were no pearly gates or elephant gods or laughing golden buddhas. There was just a converted house in North London with a zebra crossing outside.
In a stroke of luck so wide it could only have been made with an industrial roller I was asked if I wanted to attend one of a series of speeches given by Kevin Ryan and Brian Kehew who wrote the critically acclaimed book Recording The Beatles.
At first I thought it was some kind of sick joke. For a boy who grew up listening to Magical Mystery Tour and Sgt Peppers rather than nursery rhymes, who learnt With A Little Help From My Friends on piano while everyone else was off playing football, who once said anyone who doesn’t like The Beatles is inherently evil, it is basically the dream assignment. After standing about drooling for five to ten minutes I accepted the challenge and attended the talk.

The lecture covered the full history of the studio, from its days under EMI as His Master’s Voice, Columbia and Parlophone right through to it’s liberation and status as a listed building. A lot of the talk was focused on The Beatles, and rightly so, their music is Abbey Road’s most famous export. It would be like giving a talk on Amsterdam that didn’t cover prostitution, relaxed drug laws and tulips.
The amazing thing about the studio is you can hear The Beatles in it. When Brian Kehew gave a demonstration of how the last note of A Day In The Life was recorded (by the four Beatles each hitting a chord on a different piano) the acoustics of the room gave it exactly the same rich quality it has on the recording.
To create the claustrophobic blues club vibe for Yer Blues the four of them clambered into a tiny tape room above the studio itself.
The place has an incredible ambience and an incredible history. It’s a hard thing to describe or explain. It feels as though you have been transported back, that the studio techs in lab coats could wander in at any second to set up. It’s been kept so well, preserved like a memory.

It’s a rare treat to be granted access to the studio. As an audience we were told they are not usually accessible to the public. That didn’t stop me wanting more though. Regardless of the fact I was sat in the same room The Beatles had recorded, I wanted to see it all. It felt as though things were being kept back. On every corner between the front door and Studio Two a security guard had been placed to ensure nobody wandered off and saw something they weren’t supposed to. I was reminded of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It wasn’t enough I had a golden ticket, I wanted to go swimming in the chocolate river. At one point while everyone else was gumming themselves over archaic pieces of recording equipment I feigned needing to visit the little Beatles room and started off down a corridor. I found a bar. For a second I thought about going in and pretending I belonged there. Then I remembered I had an assignment to do. Disobeying orders made me need the toilet. I think I used George’s one.

The studio had been converted into a lecture theatre by a small stage being constructed for Brian and Kevin, and their projections and videos. The rest of the room was lines of red leather chairs with metal legs. During the lecture we were told the chairs had been brought in during the 60’s as it was discovered the squeak caused by the old wooden chairs often ruined recordings and an American studio had started using ones similar. The chairs have been in the studio since then. By the end of the talk I had convinced myself I was in John Lennon’s favourite chair.

I’ve already written two articles on the studios, and they’re a lot more professional and focused than this but I need time to geek out and freak out over being invited into my own personal Mecca

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Me time.

This morning I went for a run.
I decided to run as far as I could and then run back, knowing I would be forcing myself to run further than usual just to get home. All was going well until my ankle gave out about two miles in and I was left to hobble home.

As I was wandering the suburban nightmare that makes up my running track I had a good chance to think. I need time like this. There is always so much going on and so many people around I struggle to put things in order in my head.
It turns out, having thought about it at great length I very much enjoy my own company. There was a time when I wanted people around me constantly but I grew beyond it. Others haven’t, or won’t.

My thoughts are it says a lot about a person if they are happy to go somewhere alone. I once worried what people would make of me but it really is none of their business.
As a rule my friends run late. I don’t think they ever consider how that changes things for others, those obliged to turn up for everything annoyingly early…me. There was a time when I couldn’t stand being kept waiting, when I was self conscious and worried they would never turn up, that I was a joke in some way. It turns out they just can’t keep to time and I needed to chill out a bit.

I never would have wandered into a cafe solo and sat and had a coffee a couple of years ago. A part of the problem is my hometown. Anyone sat by themselves reading is obviously an asylum-seeking paedophile witch and should be burnt at the stake.
Working up in London has made me realise how satisfying it can be to just lose an hour somewhere different. It does wonders for the internal feng shui.

My freelance work has also led me to embrace a social taboo, going to the cinema alone. The first time I wandered around Soho until I found the screening rooms I didn’t know what to expect, or how I would feel to be alone in a cinema.
When you rationalise it, there’s no real difference between going to the cinema with twenty people and going there alone.
It’s not like you sit chatting, unless you’re an erstwhile cunt.
I’m not saying I will be rocking up to the Empire in Basildon on my jack jones anytime soon but it wouldn’t be too much of an effort to do it if there was something I really wanted to see and couldn’t wangle a free screening or my girlfriend into accompanying me (like The Muppets).

I’ve got to the point where I could quite happily go travelling alone. If anyone wanted to send me on an assignment to New York or India I would be totally down with that.

I think everyone should just take some time to free themselves from everyone else and just listen to themselves. You might learn something.